December 2011 | ISSUE 73
Merit Introduces Health SolutionsPlus (Healthcare Spending Accounts)
Merit is pleased to introduce Health SolutionsPlus, an innovative new approach to Healthcare Spending Accounts (HCSAs) that uses a Visa® payment card for claims. It will be available as an optional supplemental benefit to the Office Supervisory Benefit Plan, effective January 1, 2012. Health SolutionsPlus is not currently available for employees that participate in the Hour Bank Benefit Plan.
HCSAs are growing in popularity as a means to deliver more flexibility to employees when combined with a core benefit plan. When participating in a HCSA, employers allocate a pre-determined dollar amount to each employee’s account annually. Those dollars can be used by employees and their dependents to pay for eligible medical and dental expenses not covered by the core benefit plan, or to supplement the core plan. HCSA contributions and administration fees are tax deductible by employers, and benefits are received tax-free by employees.
With a traditional HCSA, employees are responsible for payment of expenses, and a paper claim is submitted. The insurer subsequently reimburses the employee for eligible expenses. Great-West Life’s Health SolutionsPlus takes HCSAs to a new level. Employees are furnished with a Health SolutionsPlus Visa payment card which they, their spouses and dependents can use to access their HCSA dollars, enabling them to pay approved providers directly at the point of sale in many situations. Employees’ out-of-pocket expenses and the need to submit paper claim forms are significantly reduced.
Health SolutionsPlus can be set up for a minimum amount of $250 per employee per calendar year to a maximum of $1,000. Employers will receive an invoice from Great-West Life, representing the actual claims made by their employees that month, plus applicable fees.
Health SolutionsPlus is a win-win for both employees and employers. When added to the core benefit plan, it is an effective way for employees to personalize the benefit plan to suit their individual needs. It is also an important recruiting and employee retention tool that provides a full tax deduction for employers.
Watch for further details regarding Health SolutionsPlus to be added soon to the Mercon Benefits website, www.merconbenefits.com (on the Benefit Administrators tab). If you require further information about adding Health SolutionsPlus to your company’s Office Supervisory Plan, please call Mercon and speak with either Michele Andrade at extension 223 or Kathy Monk at extension 231.
December Remittance Deadline
Normally, employee hours and corresponding payments for the Hour Bank plan must be received by Mercon by the 15th day of the month following the month in which the hours were worked. However, due to statutory holidays, it will be necessary to set an earlier deadline in December.
Remittances and corresponding payments must be received at Mercon no later than December 13, 2011 to guarantee the hours will be processed in December.
New Office Supervisory Plan Rates
Please note that effective January 1, 2012 there will be a $1.00 per employee per month increase to the Office Supervisory rates that took effect on November 1, 2011. This increase represents the premium for Best Doctors coverage being added to the plan effective January 1, 2012.
2012 Monthly Remittance Forms – Hour Bank Benefit Plan
Monthly Remittance forms are being prepared to reflect the new Hour Bank rates in effect as of January 1, 2012. Printed forms with the new rates will be mailed in mid-December. Electronic forms will be e-mailed in December. If you have not received new Remittance forms by early January, please contact Mercon to ensure we have your correct mailing or e-mail address.
Please note that on the 2012 Remittance forms, there is a section for GST/HST Input Tax Credit calculation. GST/HST Input Tax Credit enables a business to claim back the GST/HST paid on legitimate expenses as an offset against GST/HST submitted throughout the year.
The GST/HST Input Tax Credit section of the Remittance forms has been updated for 2012. When completing the new forms, please note that the factor used in calculating the credit has been updated.
Hour Bank - Late 2011 Hours
If you report late 2011 hours, 2011 rates will continue to apply if those late hours and corresponding payments are received by Mercon no later than January 31, 2012.
However, 2012 rates will apply to any late 2011 hours and/or corresponding payments received February 1, 2012 or later.
As the Christmas season approaches, Mercon would like to take the opportunity to remind you that mail service will be slower. If you remit hours and payments by mail, Canada Post may have a significant impact on timely processing of your hours. Please consider mailing any Remittance forms or payments earlier than usual during December.
Canada Post’s service will also affect turnaround time on claim payments if employees are not utilizing online claims processing (eClaims) and Direct Deposit. If you receive feedback from employees that claim payments are delayed, please ask them to allow for additional time to receive cheques during the holiday season. Employees requiring expedited payment of claims should be encouraged to sign up for eClaims and Direct Deposit with Great-West Life. Both the Plan number (55400) and the employee’s Member Identification Number are needed. To sign up, employees should click on the Great-West Life logo on the home page of the Mercon Benefit Services website, www.merconbenefits.com. Complete registration instructions are available online. Alternatively, the employee can contact Mercon for assistance.
Payroll Administrators’ Seminars – Alberta
Mercon Benefit Services is pleased to once again offer seminars for payroll administrators in Alberta. The seminars are designed to assist member companies in the administration of the Merit Contractors Association Benefit Plan and Group Retirement Savings Plan.
A representative from Mercon will be presenting information relative to plan features and administration of the Hour Bank and the Office Supervisory Benefit Plans. Marla McCready, Director – Merit College of Construction will also be presenting information on the HR Toolkit, employment standards and training programs.
Seminars will be held on the following dates:
Edmonton - Tuesday January 24, 2012 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Merit’s Edmonton office at 13025 St. Albert Trail.
Calgary – Thursday, February 2, 2012 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Executive Royal Inn at 2828 - 23 St. N.E.
Coffee and snacks will be provided at both sessions
Please confirm your attendance by emailing email@example.com, and stating which session you will attend. Space is limited, so please register early.
Payroll Administrators’ Webinars
There are no Payroll Administrators’ Webinars scheduled for the remainder of 2011. The schedule for the first half of 2012 is as follows:
Thursday, January 26
Thursday, February 23
Thursday, March 29
Thursday, April 26
Thursday, May 24
Thursday, June 28
Webinars commence at 10:00 a.m. Mountain Time and last approximately 1.5 hours. If either you or your company is new to the benefit plan, or if you are looking to refresh your knowledge of the Plan and administrative procedures, the webinars will provide you with an excellent overview.